Democratic Congresswoman Says Party Leadership Attempted to 'Beat Moderates into Submission'

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Posted: Mar 18, 2022 7:00 PM
Democratic Congresswoman Says Party Leadership Attempted to 'Beat Moderates into Submission'

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida slammed her party's leadership for favoring the more progressive Democrats over moderates in an interview published Friday.

Murphy, who announced in December that she will not seek reelection, told Politico that Democratic Party leadership tried to "beat moderates into submission" amid efforts to pass President Joe Biden's agenda.

"I can't tell you the number of times I said, 'You can't keep promising rainbows and unicorns when your political reality is such narrow margins in the House and a dead-even Senate,'" Murphy said. "They took the difference between rainbows and unicorns and political reality — which is anger and disappointment — and turned that anger and disappointment against their own members."

Last year, moderate Democrats resisted party leadership's efforts to tie the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better Act to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Each bill ultimately passed the House separately but the social spending bill failed in December after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced he would not support the legislation.

"I felt from the start [connecting the two bills] was a failed strategy," Murphy said. "I also felt like you can't promise rainbows and unicorns when you know that you don't have the votes for it."

Murphy also said the party's leadership had less "tolerance" for moderates voting in ways to retain their seats in Congress since Democrats took control of Washington following the 2020 election.

"My first term … there was a lot more tolerance for, 'Do what you need to do to hold your seat, and come back because we're trying to build towards [a] majority,'" she said. "With us being in the majority, that tolerance eroded a bit. It's unfortunate, because I think in order for us as Democrats to hold the majority, you have to be able to win in seats like mine and in redder seats. That means you have to cut your members a little bit of leeway to vote their district. This march towards party unity is going to be detrimental to our ability to lead."

Additionally, she ripped Democratic interest groups for the large number of funds used to unseat moderate Democrats in a tough election year. Murphy previously outlasted a primary challenge in 2018 from an American Civil Liberties Union attorney that was endorsed by progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

"I told those groups, 'For every dollar that you spend against me, it’s going to take 10 to repair that.' … Why, as Democrats, we would take money that we need to reserve for the on-year to help win and grow the majority — why we would spend that money against our own members is really baffling," Murphy said.

A total of 31 House Democrats have so far announced they will not seek reelection in November as several polls indicate that Republicans are bound to retake the House and Senate.